January 15, 2024
BEIJING – Against the backdrop of a protracted period of low growth, international anticipation is high about China’s proposals for reviving the economy as Premier Li Qiang joins the global elite for the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, which will be held from Monday to Friday in Davos, Switzerland.
Li arrived in the Swiss city of Zurich on Sunday. During his first overseas trip of the year that runs until Wednesday, Li will make official visits to Switzerland and Ireland.
He is expected to deliver a special address on Tuesday at the opening of the Davos meeting, which will be attended by more than 2,800 delegates from businesses, governments, international organizations and civil society from around the world, including more than 60 heads of state and government, to discuss the world’s most pressing issues and set priorities for the year ahead.
The meeting comes amid increasing division and uncertainty that continue to destabilize the world. Multiple international organizations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, predict that the global economy will slow down further in 2024.
A tight financial environment and weak consumer demand will slow down economic growth. Furthermore, geopolitical tensions will not only affect involved countries but also exacerbate the fragmentation of the global economy, observers said.
“There are high expectations from Premier Li’s attendance at the annual meeting, to hear his outlook on China’s economy,” said Chen Liming, chair of the Greater China of the World Economic Forum, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
Since the Chinese delegation participated in the Davos Symposium for the first time in 1979, China has never been absent from the annual event, Chen said. China’s GDP, which accounted for only about 2 percent of the global total in 1979, now accounts for nearly 20 percent of the global total.
“Clearly, China plays a significant role when it comes to dealing with issues related to geopolitics, economy, innovation or climate change. In every aspect, China has an indispensable role to play,” Chen said. “In this sense, we eagerly hope that the Chinese delegation will send messages to the world about China’s ongoing and future development priorities.”
President Xi Jinping voiced his confidence in the nation’s high-quality development in his New Year message to ring in 2024, saying that the year 2023 saw China’s economy weather the storm and become “more resilient and dynamic than before”.
In 2024, the fundamental outlook of the Chinese economy, which has long been positive, remains unchanged, according to Chen. As the world’s second-largest economy, China will continue to contribute around one-third of global economic growth and remain one of the most critical engines for global economic recovery, he said.
“Although the Chinese economy faces certain difficulties and challenges, the implementation of a series of policies, including those promoting the development of the private sector, encouraging foreign investment and implementing financial policies, is eagerly anticipated for their potential positive effect on the country’s growth.”
This year’s Davos meeting is themed “Rebuilding Trust”. Chen said the theme is of crucial importance in today’s world, because, in the past few years, the world has been divided and has faced conflicts.
“In a fractured world, how can trust be rebuilt? Trust is the foundation of cooperation. Without trust, it is difficult to talk about cooperation. Without cooperation, it is difficult to address the various challenges we face globally, whether it is economic recovery, climate change, energy transformation, or governance over high-tech development,” he said.
While acknowledging globalization is facing challenges at the moment, Chen said that it is highly unlikely that comprehensive and long-term de-globalization will occur.
“We hear many new terms such as de-globalization, decoupling and de-risking. However, I personally believe that a comprehensive and long-term decoupling or de-globalization would make the world less efficient,” he said.
“It is unnecessary to make a fuss about short-term or partial decoupling in certain areas. In the long run, the world still requires better cooperation and coordination to address both long-term and short-term challenges we face.”